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HISTORY OF 
KINGS ISLAND 
ENFIELD CT 

AND FARMER TERRY 


WRITTEN BY MYRTLE 

HATHEWAY FULLER NOVEMBER 1 1958 


...rje2014 



KINGS ISLAND ENFIELD CT : FARMER TERRY AND HIS ISLAND 

WRITTEN BY MYRTLE HATHEWAY FULLER NOVEMBER 1 1958 ...rjeitrn 

In the entire length of the Connecticut River, there is probably no wilder, more 
picturesque or fascinating spot than the island situated in the rapids below Enfield 
Falls, between the towns of Suffield and Enfield in Northern Connecticut. Called 
"The Great Island" by the early settlers and named King's Island on the county 
map of 1869, probably because, the King family, whose land is opposite the north 
end, and who operated a ferry across to Enfield had previously owned it, it is better 
known as Terry's Island, from the fact that D. Clinton Terry, of the Enfield Terry 
family, owned and lived on it for twenty-five years. In that length of time it became 
famous for several happenings, one being the gathering of the Millerites in 1875, 
when the end of the world was looked for, and another the double wedding of Mr. 
Terry's two daughters to the Read brothers, of Wilbraham. 

The island, containing 104 acres and extending the greater part of a mile up and 
down the river, is seldom visited nowadays, being quite difficult of access, except 
during periods of low-water, when it is possible to cross on stones near -where the 
canal aqueduct crosses the mouth of Stony Brook. There are cliffs of some height 
on the west side and it was formerly densely wooded. It has been logged out over 
twice, the last time some fifteen or twenty years ago, for its valuable timber. At that 
time the logs of hemlock, white pine, poplar, and oak were rafted over to the east 
side by Charles Bishop, who had acquired the timber rights. 

In the Spring, when the shad and salmon came up the river, in great numbers to 
spawn, the island was formerly a favorite camping site for roving bands of Indians, 
who came with their nets and erected their temporary dwellings , to take advantage 
of the excellent fishing. For several decades, at every session of the Legislature 
there had been agitation for building a dam across to the west bank of the river as a 
substitute for the ancient dam at the head of Enfield Rapids, to furnish hydo power 
for the community. So far, these bills have been defeated. 

The island has had a colorful history and has changed hands many times, In 1641 it 
was granted by the Conn. General Court to Rev. Ephraim Huit, Windsor's first 
minister, but given back to the Court by his will. About 1690 it was bought by John 
Lewis from the Indians who then claimed it, tradition says for a pound of tobacco. 
This title was proved invalid and in 1671 the Mass. General Court granted it to 
Major John Pynchon, founder of Suffield for his work in running the boundary 
lines between the Massachusetts and Connecticut colonies. At his death, in 1703, it 
was appraised at 10 pounds, sterling, and was conveyed by his heirs, in 1717, to 
John and Rev. Ebenezer Devotion and Joshua Leavitt of Suffield. It was owned by 
General Phinehas Lyman 1764 to 1774, when it was sold to Roger Enos, of Windsor. 
Somewhat later a part of it was bought by John Ely, who built a dam across from 
the west side about 1787 and established a sawmill. This dam was swept away in 



the flood of 1810 and never rebuilt. Traces of it may still be seen at low -water. 

At a later period, the island was owned for a considerable time by the King family. 
(A descendant of this family says that the purchase price was two yoke of oxen and 
a barrel of cider.) 

In 1864 it was purchased by D. Clinton Terry and Milton Ives, of Suffield. Mr. Ives 
owned the north end, which he cultivated in part, having at one time a large peach 
orchard, but he never lived there. Soon after the purchase Mr. Terry started 
clearing and cultivating his part of the Island and built, near the south end, on a 
high knoll, a sturdy story-and-a-half clapboarded house. The foundation stones 
came from the river and the family lived in a tent while the house was being built. 
Soon a barn and other necessary farm buildings wore erected. A clipping from the 
New York Sun dated 1879, states that when trees north of the house had been 
thinned out to form a grove, "Farmer Terry", standing on his doorstop to enjoy the 
view, included in his vision seven towns and as many white church spires. 

This grove was often used for local picnics and as a camp-meeting site for the 
Second Adventists, or Millerites as they were called from the name of their 
leader. Access to the island was gained by means of a large flat-boat, operated by 
Mr. Terry, which ran back and forth along a wire cable. Persons wishing to go over 
were obliged to cross the canal to the tow-path, either by boat or one of the bridges 
at Windsor Locks and walk to the landing place, where they would "holler" for Mr. 
Terry to come and get them. Considering the fact that Mr. Terry was quite deaf, 
this must often have been a considerable strain on the vocal chords of would-be 
passengers. At times of drought it was sometimes possible to drive across with 
horse and wagon. 

Mr. Terry, known locally as "Clint" Terry, seems to have been an interesting 
character. He was apparently very versatile as he cultivated his farm, ran a sawmill 
and operated, with the aid of his two daughters, a "fish-place" on the went bank of 
the river where shad and alewives were caught, by net, in the Spring. He must also 
have been something of a cabinetmaker, as he made coffins for the local trade. He 
was a very devout man and a leader among the Second Adventists in the Hartford- 
Springfield area. When, in 1873, a day had been set by the Millerites for the ending 
of the world, a large number of the sect gathered there, expecting to ascend into 
heaven on the appointed day. It is traditional that they brought ascension robes 
with them, which they donned for the ascension. "Old-Timers" used to say that 
some of the more zealous even climbed into the tree-tops to be the first to ascend, 
but there is some doubt on this point. At any rate, the day came and went, and the 
Adventists were still on the island. 

Now, Mr. Terry, besides being pious, was a very kindly and hospitable man and 
was sadly imposed upon by his Adventist brethren. Under the excuse of a possible 
miscalculation in the date, they tarried on. He owned a flock of a hundred or more 



fine turkeys and not until the last turkey had been consumed did the brethren take 
their departure having almost literally "eaten"him out of house and home", and 
leaving him much poorer in possessions, if not in faith. Because of this event, one 
newspaper man has dubbed the island "Isle of the Fanciful Hop-off to Heaven:. 

The second notable event to take place here was the marriage of the two Terry 
daughters, in 1878, which came about in this way: Mr. Terry, and hi« family 
attended the Adventist camp meeting in Springfield, where his daughter Nellie met 
William H. Read, a stalwart six-footer from the Wilbraham hills, and became 
engaged to him. This, of course, meant visiting back and forth, and eventually 
resulted in the betrothal of Nellie's sister, Sadie, to William's brother, Marshall, 
another six-footer. Soon thereafter arrangements were made for the wedding, a 
double ceremony, which took place in the grove, on October 18 of that year. 

This was a very grand affair. The morning trains that day brought guests from 
Hartford, Springfield, and surrounding towns, and even from New York. They 
were met by a gaily-decorated steamer, which carried them up the canal, to be 
ferried across to the island. The N. Y. Times gave a very elaborate description of 
the wedding, in the flowery language of the day. Incredible as it seems, a turkey 
dinner, with all the "fixings", was served to the entire company, of about 300 
persons. Photographs were taken and the affair received a great deal of newspaper 
publicity. 

The invitation read as follows: Mr. & Mrs. D. C. Terry Request the pleasure of your 
company at the Marriage and Reception of their Daughters Wednesday Afternoon, 
Oct. 16, at their Island Home Windsor Looks, Conn. Will H. Read to Nellie M. 

Terry and Marshall I. Read to Sadie E. Terry 1878. 

After the departure of the two daughters, the island must have become a lonely 
place for Mr. Terry and his wife, and he sold it about 1889. He allowed the property 
to go for a low price, understanding that the purchaser would maintain the 
property as a home. However, the new owner sold the house, which was removed 
from the island and is now standing, with some alterations, on Suffield Street, 
Windsor Locks. It was owned for many years by Charles Clark, the genial colored 
barber, well-known to two generations of local residents. 

The property was then acquired by a water-power syndicate, which out off the 
timber at that time. It is now owned by the Conn. Light & Power Co. and taxes are 
paid in Suffield. 

So far as is known, Mr. Terry was the only person to build a house and live on the 
island. Today few traces are left to show that it was once inhabited. The foundation 
stones show where the house stood, with the uncovered well nearby and the trunk 
of the tree to which tho cable for the ferry-boat was attached is still encircled by a 
piece of rusty chain. Once more, as in the days when it was a favorite camping 



ground for the red men, its denizens are the deer, the muskrat and the wild-fowl. 
When the tall trees were still standing they were a favorite haunt and nesting place 
of the black-crested night heron, locally called "Quocks", from the sound of their 
cry. 

Since the timber has been out off, however, they have moved across to the west 
bank of the river. Only a very few of the older generation living today have a 
personal recollection of Farmer Terry and his island.! 

Nathan Stoitz. of Warehouse Point, has written the following reminiscent verses, which appear in 
"Connecticut River Diary” 

It snowed on Terry's Island 

And in the falling snow, 

I watched old Farmer Terry 

In the days of long ago 

Enter the woods behind his house 

With ax and saw in hand. 

Then the giant timber crashed 

Upon his fertile land. 

Note: only one verse of 4 written 

KINGS ISLAND ENFIELD CT : FARMER TERRY AND HIS ISLAND 

WRITTEN BY MYRTLE HATHEWAY FULLER NOVEMBER 1 1958 ...rje20i4 


Please visit and explore the Enfield Historical Society. Inc’s website at: 
http://www.enfieldhistoricalsocietv.org/ 

or the Enfield Historical Society Inc’s Facebook page: 

https://www.facebook.com/EnfieldHistoricalSocietv/ 


We are located in Enfield, Connecticut USA